Wednesday, May 30, 2012

go blog yourself.

That's what J.J. said to me about an hour ago - "Go blog yourself." Not a bad suggestion, and definitely better than what I was doing, which was napping. For two straight hours. In the middle of the evening. And trying desperately to wake up, to rise from sleep, but I just kept drifting back off. J.J. was right - I needed to (a) get up, and (b) go write. Oh, and (c) make dinner.

I started with (c).

Yeah, they're strawberry-cake-flavored Rice Krispie treats, and I frosted them and ate a bunch for dinner. Yeah, I also made and ate a batch of these over the weekend. YEAH, SO WHAT?

The helpless napping + the ultra-healthy dinner choice - both are derived from my latest state of being, which, apparently, is Annnxietyyy! (That was said in the Oprah voice. Like when Liz Lemon says to Fake Oprah, "Can you just say 'Liz LEMONNN'?") YIPPEE!

I know, it was a surprise to me, too - that I somehow slipped back into my default setting of anxiety. The thing was, despite two devastatingly shitastic happenings at work last week, and despite the fact that summer camp is looming (= busiest effing time o' the year for me), despite the fact that it's now been almost three months since I saw my therapist...I still thought I was doing all right. Because, hey, summer is here, the weather is beautiful, I've even been running and dancing (don't ask) and riding my bike.

Nevertheless, I woke up last night out of breath and with heart palpitations. AKA, anxiety attack. Which sucks, because I haven't had one of those since - I don't know, a pretty long time ago. And the night before last, I tossed and turned until 3 a.m. It was partly because our house was sweltering, and partly because my stomach was tied in knots at the idea of going back to work after a three-day weekend and facing the unsolvable disasters I'd mentally avoided all weekend.

Excuse me for a moment. I need seconds on dinner. (Slash, thirds and fourths, since I already had firsts and seconds.)

Aaand I'm back. So today, a friend linked from Facebook to this great post about depression, wherein the author reminded me that "depression lies." Which can also be said about anxiety. The trickery, the deceit, the mindfucking: it all happens, by the grace of anxiety. These last couple weeks, it tricked me into thinking the following supersweet notions (each of which are still being debated in my head):

  • Any efforts I've made in the last six years towards inclusive programming at work are for naught.
  • I don't need to pay attention to my breathing.
  • Writing is sooo muchhh worrrk.
  • My ineptitude will get the best of me.
  • Kitchening sucks balls and I never want to pick up a paintbrush again.
  • People who regularly need evening naps and then make frosted strawberry Rice Krispie treats for dinner might have difficulty adjusting to parenthood.
  • Also, adulthood.
  • Maybe I shouldn't even consider parenthood when things like this exist in the world (watch the video).

And now, folks, watch as this proud Hogwarts grad attempts to magic away each of the doubts clouding her mind.
  • Any efforts I've made in the last six years towards inclusive programming at work are for naught. Untrue. Those efforts have benefitted individual kids with special needs, their peers, their families, and the teachers. I can't divulge details here, but I know the rest of the rebuttal in my head.
  • I don't need to pay attention to my breathing. Untrue. Any time I even start to breathe deeply, I'm instantly uplifted. The trick is to incorporate it as a preventative measure and not just a secondary or tertiary response.
  • Writing is sooo muchhh worrrk. Mostly untrue. Sometimes it's work, but it's the kind of work that's worth it. I don't think it's a coincidence that in the time my journal and my blog have gone untouched, my anxiety has spiked. When I rediscovered my passion for writing, the lights came back on in my life (returnoflight, wut wut). It might seem harder than, say, staring blankly at the same episode of Friends that I just watched two days ago, but it feels so much better during and after.
  • My ineptitude will get the best of me. Stay tuned...but I think it's a trick. I think that's one of those statements that I just need to reframe every. single. time it pops up. Because it will - but only if I let it. My strengths are so much more powerful than my ineptitude. And some of my recent failings - like forgetting important details and avoiding scary things - will be assuaged when the anxiety fades a bit.
  • Kitchening sucks balls and I never want to pick up a paintbrush again. A definite possibility. But it'll be done someday, right? RIGHT?
  • People who regularly need evening naps and then make frosted strawberry Rice Krispie treats for dinner might have difficulty adjusting to parenthood. Untrue. Well, I mean, they might have a hard time adjusting to parenthood, but geez, don't most people? It's an adjustment no matter how you slice it. What I'm really getting at is my deep-seated fear that the anxiety disorder is incompatible with motherhood, which I also know to be untrue. I just need to stay on top of it most of the time, and when I can't? Well, then my kid will be the luckiest frickin' kid on the block, because s/z/he'll get frosted strawberry Rice Krispie treats for dinner.
  • Also, adulthood. Untrue. I mean, yes, true in that I've had a hard time adjusting to adulthood, but omg, if you had told 15-year-old me that when adults have a crappy week, they get to respond by snorking up a platter of high-fructose corn syrup and singing their original tune, "Fuck You, Week," with the windows wide open? Yeah, I'd have dug that idea. Adulthood FTW. (Sorry, next-door neighbors.)
  • Maybe I shouldn't even consider parenthood when things like this exist in the world (watch the video). Untrue. And know why? Because I can work to raise a child who helps defeat closed-mindedness and bigotry, hatred and terror - even if just by not contributing to those things, but hopefully by actively organizing against them.

Those last two bullet points remind me of two more awesome things, the first being this E-Card. I love it because, hey, parents are people, too - and dysfunction ain't all bad.

...And the second being "Joy or Just Wait?", an absolutely stellar article about the importance of debunking the myth that parenting is a series of never-ending emotional, physical, and financial land mines. That article, in turn, reminded me of my (far less eloquent) musings on joining the League of Eternal Complainers. Speaking of which, I'm feeling pretty positive about parenting lately, though I'm waiting to finish the kitchen first - thought process being that I should maybe not expose my developing fetus to a potent mixture of paint fumes/vinyl off-gassing/floor glue fumes. Just maybe.

Anyway, for now - I'm going to go eat some actual dinner, and then I'm going to go to bed. To breathe, to read, and perchance, to sleep.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

allow yourself.

Sometimes, even though I try to stop the control-freak madness, I need to allow the lists to flow, because that's just how my brain works. Lists make me happy; lists suggest an imposed order in my world. If that calms my brain, so be it. When my brain is calm, I think about important matters. For example, why is it socially acceptable to dig out golden slumbers (i.e., eye crusties, after the line in the Beatles song - "Golden slumbers fill your eyes..."), but not boogers? Aren't they basically the same thing, just from different orifices? Eh. The world may never know. 

Hold on. Totally gonna find a picture of eye crusties for you.

Not a picture of eye crusties. Hoping this is less vomity (vomitty?),
because for real, don't Google image search "eye crust." Really.

I tried to abort this post partway through, because really, it's revealing my controlly-listy tendencies on a whole new level. I already made my list of fun summer stuff that I want to do this year, but there's been another list cooking - fun summer stuff I want to do to my house. Yeah, I know I'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel. Yeah, I know I'm still screwing up my bathroom while taking 10-minute breaks from the kitchen remodel. Yeah, I know "doing stuff to the house" is more likely to cause tears than happiness these days. But - my hope is that the kitchen will be done by the end of June (maybe? Please gods?), which still leaves me with plenty of time for house projects. And, hey, the reality is, I like doing stuff to my house (yes, even especially cleaning). So, rather than halting the writing of this list, I midwifed the shit out of it. And here she is:

Summer 2012 House To-Do List
  • Clean the windows (I've not done it once since they were installed in 2009)
  • Plant something in the garden
  • Come up with a landscaping plan for the back yard (note to self: a PLAN does not mean the landscaping needs to be COMPLETED this summer. 'TIS A PLAN ONLY)
  • Finish the kitchen
  • Build a fence between us and the park
  • Make art (purple room, office, bedroom, family room, front room)
  • Finish the kitchen
  • Replace the upstairs toilet
  • ...and repaint the upstairs bathroom? (That might be pushing it)
  • Update/paint the interior doors (first floor first...then upstairs)
  • Visit the neighbors' new addition for inspiration
  • Finish the kitchen
  • Make an appointment to have the HVAC system cleaned before winter
  • Check/clean the gutters
Then, when all that stuff is done, I'm putting the house on the market and moving back into an apartment so I can re-discover whatever the eff it was I used to do with all my free time.



be gentle with yourself.

I, um.

I mean - well?

Yeah. Karma.

This is not my happy face.

Karma for what, exactly, is unclear, but son of a mother! Just when I thought I was done with a room. Just when I got on my DIY high horse and thought, "Ooh! The magnet on the medicine cabinet door won't stick well, so I'll just screw it in through the little screw hole they so thoughtfully provided!" WRONG.

Wrong, indeed. I screwed right through the glass and cracked it. Which means I need to spend an afternoon doing the following:

  • Slice the caulk from around the cabinet frame
  • Remove the cabinet
  • Buy a new cabinet (only $25, but STILL)
  • Fix the paint that will inevitably have been messed up by the caulk removal
  • Install the new cabinet
  • Re-caulk
  • NOT screw the magnet in
  • Find a different method of keeping the magnet on so the door stays shut
But the other important piece of this - which I realized after yelling obscenities through my open window (adjacent to the neighborhood toddler park...whoops) - is that I really, really need to take it easy on myself. I tackled this medicine cabinet door after hours of wrestling with the trash cabinet and myriad other kitchen crap, when I really should have just taken a load off and relaxed for a bit. Especially since I haven't been following any of my physical or mental health guidelines lately...yeah. (Check yourself, anyone? Oopsie.) Yes. Be gentle with yourself, Self. Breathe, relax, enjoy. Don't berate yourself for being a total liability to your Draw Something friends. Et cetera.

The trash cabinet, though - it brings up a good point, which is that: The kitchen is HAPPENING, baby.

Since I last showed this side of the kitchen, things have changed. It was looking like this for a looong time:

...Okay, so admittedly, it might not look that different to you. But a lot has happened! For starters, I spent a few painstaking hours touching up the paint on the cabinet doors, which makes an enormous difference in person. All the mitered edges of the decorative moulding looked rough, and some of them had major gaps. Caulk + paint touch-ups = way more professional-looking.

There are also holes cut now through the bottoms of the fridge surround, the skinny cabinet, and the trash cabinet to accommodate the fridge/range cords and the fridge's water line. And I added doors to a bunch of cabinets, which was more complicated than it seemed. First was the fridge surround (which has also been primed and has one coat of paint so far); that was fairly straightforward - just re-attached the doors it came with.

Still need to: add trim underneath cabinet doors to decrease the gap; do one
more coat of paint; screw into the wall/neighbor cabinet; add shoe moulding.
Then came doors for the skinny cabinet between the fridge and the range and the upper corner cabinet. This was tricky because I didn't actually have doors for those two cabinets. I tried to find suitable cabinets that came with flat-paneled doors (so I could add the decorative moulding and have a unified look), but pickins were relatively slim at the Habitat ReStore, where I did my shopping. I thought I'd have to have someone make new doors, but then I thought...what if I just made some of my existing doors work?

I had two random doors from cabinets I removed (maybe from the the two upper cabinets that I took down? Not sure...) that were alllmost the right size. Both were slightly too narrow and definitely too short. So I retrofitted the cabinet interiors to make them shorter, too...and decided that no one would notice the slight gaps on the sides of the doors (from them being too narrow) except me. True story.

You can kind of tell from this picture where the problem was - the cabinet on the left has a top piece that's about two inches high; the one on the right (the corner cabinet) has a top piece that's only about an inch high. The bottoms matched up perfectly. So I hunted around in my scrap wood pile (um. Since when am I a person who has a scrap wood pile? Anyway...) and found a few pieces like this one - right depth and height, wrong width (which was easily remedied with my miter saw):

I added a piece to the corner cabinet and one to the skinny cabinet with wood glue and brad nails, clamped them, and spackled them so they would disappear into the original look of the cabinets.

Spackle is drying on this one; after sanding and painting, it should look great.
I carefully measured and drilled holes for the door hinges, attached the doors, and voila! You can't tell - not even in person - that they're not the original doors for the cabinets. And the corner cabinet door now lines up perfectly with the other upper-cabinet doors, which it wouldn't have done otherwise. Happy accident.

The other major project I finally tackled this weekend was the trash cabinet (also seen in the picture above - between the range and the Ikea dresser). It took longer than expected (no longer a shock), and it's not quite done, because the kit came with the wrong screws and nuts, and my best-guess replacements from the hardware store weren't quite right. So the trash can mechanism is properly installed on the inside, and the mechanism is attached to the door, but it's still a little wonky - as in, the door is pulled off-center every time I open it. But when it's finished? It'll be a nice little hidden trash and recycling center! Currently, we run to the garage (attached to the kitchen) and deposit our recycling into the big bin every time we need to, so it'll be great to have a bin so handily located.

I think the mechanism it looks smaller in the pic than it is in real life - both bins (one goes in front, the other in back) are about the size of our current trash can, which we need to empty once a week. It doesn't have to be attached to the door, but I like the idea of one step (opening the door and the mechanism slides out with it) versus two (opening the door and then pulling the bin out). When it's a pull-out (heh), it's also distinguished differently on the exterior (a horizontal handle), which helps guests find it easily. Though, after the trouble I had attaching the door this weekend, I very much just wanted to scrap the idea and just re-attach the door normally. That idea was in the pooper, though, because I had already filled the holes for the door hinges. Guess I could have drilled new ones, but they were fancy (read: weird) hinges, so it would have been really tricky, and...and I'm just not ready to give up on my pull-out trash cabinet yet! It'll get there.

J.J.'s dad is working on the top drawer for the Ikea hack, which has been stuck in the same phase forever now. He accidentally took the wrong measurements for the drawer (which is where I had gotten stymied and asked for his help), so he's re-doing it. I'm hoping that when he brings the drawer over, he can bring the "planing" tool he has. I don't know what this tool is, what it does, or how it works (although I'm guessing you turn it on and it makes a level plane in the wood), but legend has it, this is the tool I need to level out the top of the Ikea cabinet ever-so-slightly so that it fits underneath the ledge of the countertop. That way, I can make it flush with the end piece of base cabinetry and finally, finally screw the Ikea dresser and the trash cabinet into place (followed by the skinny cabinet and the fridge surround). Once those pieces are in, I can order the couuuunnnntertoppppp!! -Which will totally bring the kitchen into the next phase.

But that's what I'm talking about - I need to be gentle here. It's happening, slowly but surely. Yeah, maybe my 'spensive (relatively...for my cheap ass, anyway) range hood is MIA in the post. Yeah, maybe I'm going to have the call in the pros to fix the ceiling above the sink (no amount of spackle is working! wtf!). Yeah, maybe there are still five kajillion tiny details that I keep forgetting, remembering, and forgetting again (fixing the toe kicks of the secondhand cabinets, second coats of paint, how the hell do I cut crown moulding, why haven't I purchased a longer range cord yet, I can't drill level holes for the pulls that will be installed horizontally, etc....) - but it's getting there! I swear it is!

In fact, the other day, I perused my geeky inspiration binder (which I started before I knew about Pinterest; I still add to it - ripping out pics from magazines and organizing them into different sections of the binder). I realized that I've made almost all my kitchen remodel dreams come true, looks- and function-wise. And those were really the two major goals of the remodel - to shift the aesthetic factor towards a more modern era, and to add loads of function to an awkward, 60s-era kitchen with too few drawers and cabinets.

Did I show you my picture of what the floor will (sorta) look like? It makes me happy and gives me hope, so here it is again:

Picture it without the weird white edges, which won't be there when it's actually installed, obviously! I just took the tiles and laid them out to see what they'd look like. The floor will be one of the last things to happen - the very last thing, in fact, besides some post-remodel function updates (a chalkboard-paint area, adding some hooks for brooms, wall art - stuff like that). But: Gotta get those cabinets screwed in before anything major can happen! Maybe this weekend?

Eh. If not...that's okay. Gentle, Cathy. Gentle. 


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